By Jason Rodriguez
Third quarter sales tax receipts provide a more sobering picture of what the city can expect to receive in the four quarters of 2012 - shifting what is currently budgeted from conservative to aggressive.
City Comptroller Joe Bellitto said that with just the first two quarters under its belt at midyear, the city was able to report it had already accumulated 55 percent of its $5.30 million sales tax receipts. Since the last two quarters traditionally perform the best, the total sales tax for 2012 was raised to $5.75 million.
However, the countywide sales tax figures have been reported for the third quarter, and Jamestown will be handed down about $1.33 million - or 9.5 percent less than what it received in the third quarter of 2010.
"On the positive, as far as our 2011 budget is concerned, we are now at almost 80 percent of our budget through the three quarters. That is a very good positive," said Bellitto. "Unless something crazy happens, such as our fourth quarter coming 21 percent less than the last fourth quarter, I am quite confident we will make our budget for 2011."
But the third quarter dip means that 2011 has only outpaced the first three quarters of 2010 by $160,000 or 4 percent. Bellitto said 2011 will likely settle to about $5.62 million - better than budgeted for the current year but below what it is hoping for in 2012.
He said the executive budget proposal is now "pretty aggressive" in its calculation, which is now banking on a 2 percent increase in 2012 to reach the goal of $5.75 million.
"When we put it together originally, we try to always out our sales tax number conservatively and we thought that was," Bellitto said to members of the city council. "Now, all of of a sudden with a poor third quarter, that number becomes aggressive. I would strongly discourage you from increasing that number."
If the current year calculation holds true through the fourth quarter, the city will gain $320,000 beyond its budgeted amount.
On Monday, following the appeals of the police department to restore capital for vehicles, training and equipment, Councilman Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2, said he would support using some of the surplus money instead of raising property taxes.
"Right now, I would hold the line in terms of the city's bottom line if we could shift some money around to try to pick up some of the slack," he said.
The city council will hold a public hearing on Mon., Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers concerning the 2012 city budget.